{ More Jesus } Thriving not just surviving / Day 15

READ: Ezekiel 47:12

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food.  Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary.  Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. 

It has been raining here for weeks, it seems.  The murky gray clouds, the ceaseless mud, the dampness that ruins my hair…it all leaves me with this sense of desperate longing for sunshine and clear skies.  Today, for just about 20 minutes, the sun peeked through the clouds and I saw a glimpse of blue behind the gray.  It made the longing even stronger.

The last several months of my life have been much like these unending gray skies that perpetuate the cold and dreary drizzle.  Maybe you can relate. I have longed for spring to come, for a season of blooming and color and new beginnings.  Every peek of sunshine has increased the longing for lasting light to break through.  I catch myself in this mode of waiting… hoping… merely surviving.

I see people who weather all types of unfathomable storms but their lives continue to blossom and bloom.  They bear fruit in good seasons, and in bad, and their joy seems unshakable.  I wonder, “How are they surviving these trials?” and then it occurs to me, they aren’t.  They aren’t surviving at all; they’re thriving.

I think one of life’s greatest tragedies is that many of us have chosen, unknowingly, the path of simply surviving.  We go through the motions, do all the “right” things, and convince ourselves that it’s normal to still have this feeling of unrest and dissatisfaction with life.  Our hearts are in the right place, yet we’re silently yearning for more.  We flicker and ache to burn brightly; we are dim, craving to be vibrant.

I was recently in the company of a woman who has built her life on thriving, not surviving.  She radiates love, joy, and Jesus.  She has been through persecution, tremendous loss, and countless trials yet she remains steadfast.  Her joy never wavers.  She shared with me (and a room full of 1800 other women) her secret.

She asked us, “Are you happy?”  And many women answered, “Yes!”

She asked again, “No, are you really happy?  Like really??  How happy are you?  Because you can be happier than you are now. {pause…} Do you want to know how?”

Now everyone answered, “Yes!”

A huge smile crept across her face.  “The secret…is in the secret place.”

Where is this “secret place?”

It is wherever you want it to be.  Maybe in your bedroom behind closed doors.  Maybe at your dining room table by candlelight when everyone else is asleep. Maybe in your garden where you can hear birds chirping. Maybe in your favorite chair with a cozy blanket to wrap up in.  The secret to the secret place isn’t where it is, it’s what you do while you’re there.  This is the place where you spend time with Jesus.

When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father, who sees in secret will reward you openly.” { Matthew 6:6 }

We learn how to fully embrace the life we were created for and thrive as we learn to fully release it.  There is a secret power in yielding to God that leads to freedom.  When we find ourselves bound, merely just surviving, it may be because we haven’t surrendered an area of our lives to God. Surrender requires trust. And trust requires knowing God.

So, how can we know God more?

By studying Jesus.  We must seek Him if we want to find Him.  We must open up our Bibles and stop living as if a church service once or twice a week is enough.  We must start conversing with Him, inviting Him into the decisions we make and asking Him to lead.  We must submit to His ways, even when they’re not popular.

Our journey of thriving in life is birthed in the secret, hidden places where no one else can see.  Our hearts will be fully alive when we hide ourselves in Him, yield to Him, and learn to abide.

I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing.” { John 15:5 } 

Reflect:

  • Do you feel you are in survival mode, but longing for more?  Take a moment just to confess that in your own words to God.
  • Think about creating a “secret place” in your home that you will be compelled to visit often.  Surround yourself with things that will make it easy to linger- maybe candles, some fresh flowers, or a soft throw blanket.  What time of day would be ideal for you to set apart time to spend here?  Even if it’s just for a few minutes, try to build consistently.
  • What do you think it looks like to abide in Christ?  What does John 15:5 say the result of abiding is?  If we don’t abide in Christ, what can we do?

Prayer:

God, we don’t want to be content with just surviving life’s ups and downs.  We want to thrive, in good seasons and bad, and always have lives that are fruitful.  We know that if you are our source, and if we abide in you, our lives will be evidence of your presence.  Please help us in our weakness.  We long to seek you in the secret place, but we are weak.  We need you. You are our sanctuary, our source of life, and our only hope for thriving in every season of life.  We put our hope in You.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Elizabeth Oschwald
Elizabeth Oschwald
I’m Elizabeth, wife to an industrious, handsome fixer-upper {I mean…he fixes things, not he needs to be fixed} and Mom/Stepmom {a.k.a. Imma} to 6 amazing kids. I homeschool the ones I hatched myself, and we live on our family farm in central Illinois. I love to write about our real-life experiences, how Jesus is in everything, and how God can redeem even the biggest messes in the most beautiful, unexpected (and very Brady) ways. You can read more about my crazy crew at www.AddingJoy.com!

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